Flag ceremony at WTC site starts day as nation observes second anniversary of attacks

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 11, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) &045; Two years after the profound horror and grief of Sept. 11, two bagpipers and a drummer marched onto the former site of the World Trade Center on Thursday, bearing an American flag that once flew over its ruins.

The three men represented the Fire Department, the Police Department and Port Authority, which together lost more than 400 people in the terrorist attack.

&uot;We come here to honor those that we lost, and to remember this day with sorrow,&uot; Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

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Minutes later, the anniversary ceremony at ground zero paused for a moment of silence &045; the first of four commemorating the times when each jetliner crashed into a tower and when each skyscraper collapsed.

Across the nation, the tolling of bells, the laying of wreaths and, in many places, moments with no words at all were planned for the second anniversary of the terrorist assault that killed more than 3,000 people.

In lower Manhattan, at the site where the World Trade Center once stood, 200 children whose relatives were among the 2,792 began the solemn, careful task of reading the names of the victims in a morning ceremony.

&uot;I know I’m very proud of my children,&uot; said Lynn Morris, whose husband, Seth Allan Morris, died Sept. 11, 2001, and whose two children, 11-year-old Madilynn and 9-year-old Kyle, were reading names. &uot;It’s amazing the strength that they have developed over the years.&uot;

Families began arriving well before the ceremony, many wearing ribbons of white or black, symbolizing mourning, or yellow, for hope. They also carried flowers.

The footprint of the trade center’s north tower was outlined by a 4-foot fence draped with banners bearing drawings and messages painted by children of the victims.

One of them was a simple red heart, outlined in black, with the inscription: &uot;To my Dad, Steve Chucknick. Your in my heart forever. Love always, your son Steven.&uot;

A silent vigil began Wednesday night in New York at St. Paul’s Chapel, once in the shadow of the trade center. The Rev. Julie Taylor, 33, who volunteered at the chapel two years ago, said healing is a lifelong process. &uot;There’s no getting over it; there’s just getting through it,&uot; she said.

At sunrise Thursday, about 200 people sat quietly at an ecumenical service at a small park not far from ground zero that included a violinist, readings of poems and songs by a children’s choir.

&uot;I was hoping to get a couple minutes to face up to all the emotions of the day and to continue the process of trying to adjust,&uot; said Nathaniel Hupert, a 37-year-old public health researcher.&uot;

The ground zero ceremony, lasting about 3 1/2 hours, was to fall silent at the four moments when the terror peaked two years ago: the time of impact of each plane that flew into the trade center, and the time of each tower’s collapse.

In Washington, President Bush described his thoughts as he left a morning church service.

&uot;We remember the lives lost,&uot; he said. &uot;We remember the heroic deeds. We remember the compassion, the decency of our fellow citizens on that terrible day.

&uot;We pray for the husbands and wives, the moms and dads and the sons and daughters and loved ones … we pray for strength and wisdom.&uot;

Memorials at other Sept. 11 sites were keyed on each place’s moment of attack. A ceremony at the Pentagon was to include a moment of silence at 9:37 a.m., when the impact of a jetliner killed 184 people.

And in southwest Pennsylvania, rural hamlets were to toll bells to mark the time when the fourth hijacked plane plunged into a field there, killing the 40 passengers and crew who were later hailed as heroes for trying to stop more catastrophe.

Elsewhere in the nation, reminders of life, death and peace were set to commemorate Sept. 11, 2001.

In Toledo, Ohio, white doves were to be released after the reading of victims’ names. In Massachusetts and Hawaii, bells were to peal to remember the dead.

Twisted steel taken from the ruins and shipped to other states for memorials was to be at the center of ceremonies from North Dakota to Florida to a New Mexico church that uses two trade center beams as part of its bell tower.

And in Tampa, Fla., motorcycle riders were to raise money for the families of police, firefighters and U.S. Special Operations troops who have died in the war on terrorism.

&uot;It helps bring people together, and it helps us feel united,&uot; spokeswoman Elaine Diaz said.

The ground zero commemoration, similar to last year’s, was to feature readings by Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, New York Gov. George Pataki and New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey.

Giuliani said before the ceremony that he still wakes up at night thinking about that day.

&uot;It’s something that’s with you. It’s going to be with you for the rest of your life,&uot; he told ABC’s &uot;Good Morning America.&uot;

At sunset, two light beams pointing skyward were to be switched on, evoking the image of the twin towers in a reprise of a popular monthlong memorial unveiled in March 2002.

The centerpiece of the ground zero remembrance was the children. Some of the 200 reading names spent the weeks leading to the anniversary practicing the pronunciations on their section of the list.

Lynn Morris looked up articles so that Madilynn and Kyle could match faces to the names. Madilynn was reading 14 names, finishing with that of her father, who was 35 and worked at Cantor Fitzgerald in the trade center.